LOS ANGELES — Angelina Anderson made her Angel City Football Club debut Saturday and it ended up being a winning one.
Anderson, who was a third-round draft pick out of Cal in the NWSL Draft, came up with her best two saves late in the second half to preserve Angel City’s 2-1 NWSL Challenge Cup victory over the Portland Thorns in front of 13,154 at BMO Stadium.
First, she saved an Olivia Moultrie penalty kick in the 84th minute and one minute later, she came with a one-handed save on another shot by Moultrie that was headed toward the near post.
“Saving the PK was obviously awesome, Anderson said. “It was one of those moments I was locked in and in the zone.”
Anderson said she was told she was starting two days ago. She is the third goalkeeper behind starter DiDi Haračić and Brittany Isenhour.
“I had to change my mindset about what it would really look like and feel like to play in a game,” she said. “I personally do a lot of visualization, getting in my own head space and that really helped me out for this game.”
Even as she came out for warmups, Anderson said it still didn’t feel real.
“I was still kind of shocked,” she said. “I was overjoyed to be out there …surreal is the world I would use.
“My defense came up big time tonight. Their positioning on the field makes it really predictable sometimes for me to make a big save. That was major and helped me out.”
Angel City had to endure a 10 minutes of stoppage time at the end of the 90 minutes before finally celebrating. The win moves Angel City into second place in the West Division standings with seven points. Angel City also improves its unbeaten streak under interim coach Becki Tweed to six consecutive games.
This was the third meeting of the season between the teams and the second and last in the Challenge Cup. The first match (April 29) ended in a 3-3 draw. Portland won the first Challenge Cup contest 3-2 (May 31).
McCaskill provided the winning goal on a free kick in the 47th minute.
“I made it a goal of mind to put myself in situations to score more goals,” McCaskill said. “At the end of the day, I just want to help us win.”
Angel City opened the scoring in the ninth minute as McCaskill headed in a cross from Jasmyne Spencer.
Portland’s Morgan Weaver scored the equalizer in the 44th minute with a piece of individual excellence, curling a shot from 20 yards out by the outstretched arms of Anderson.
Angel City will wrap up Challenge Cup play next Saturday on the road at San Diego Wave FC.
Tweed credited goalkeeping coach Dan Ball for his work with Anderson.
“When we drafted her, we knew she was an incredible talent,” Tweed said. “We thought she needed to be in a professional environment. Credit to Dan Ball for his work with all three of our goalkeepers.
“Giving her the first minutes of her professional career was a choice we had to make because as a goalkeeper you get to the stage where you have to know if she’s ready or not.”